I've found myself frustrated of late with finding likeable fabric. I find a fabric with the right fiber content and drape, and the colors are all meh....I find a color I love and it's ratty polyester...I find the perfect fabric and it costs...my firstborn child. And we've all read Rapunzel, kids--those kinds of deals don't end well.
So I decided to venture into dyeing fabrics.
I had some leftover white cotton voile from Dharma Trade Co., and a packet of idye brand dye that I thought I needed for something else, but didn't. So I thought--why not give it a go? There's enough fabric for a lightweight shortgown or jacket, and a light blue would be just the thing.
After perusing the interwebs and learning about different dyeing methods, I decided that the stovetop method looked like the best for getting even-hued results. Here's what you need:
Large stockpot you don't plan to use for anything else. I found this at the "end of aisle sale" in the grocery store.
Dye. I used idye, available from Dharma Trade Co and other places, too.
Salt. The non-iodized kind. Or, if you were dyeing silk, vinegar. Don't do what I did and realize you only have iodized salt in the pantry and have to make a run to the store on a Saturday afternoon.
Garlic. Kidding. That's just my stash.
Bamboo Skewers. Ok, this is my contribution to the world of dyeing advice. You'll need to stir the pot o' dye, and I didn't want to sacrifice a spoon to the cause. Plus, the thin skewers made maneuvering the fabric and, eventually, lifting it out of the pot, a cinch.
Fabric. Pre-wash--I did this right before so the fabric would already be wet and ready to add to the dye bath.
Follow your dyeing directions! Here's what I learned:
Heat your giant pot, filled most of the way with water. If you're dyeing cotton, you'll need to add salt to the dye bath. I learned that, despite what idye packaging claims, you can't dissolve a cup of salt in "a little" hot water. I would recommend heating water for your salt (I just nuked it) and start mixing to dissolve it separately while the dye dissolves in the dye pot.
When you add the dye, you'll find that a) it looks really purty:
and b) it takes FOREVER to dissolve completely. I had little chunky bits hovering on the surface until I started stirring to create the Tidal Wave of Blue. Then I finally agitated it all outta there.
You'll add the fabric only after the dye is completely dissolved. That, along with nearly constant stirring, is what I thank for the evenness of the color job I ended up with.
Stirring with skewers:
idye has you add the salt (er, saltwater) now. And stir.
Stir some more.
Keep stirring for about a half an hour.
I forgot to mention that you will also need a cup of tea and some fabulous 30s music. Or your choice of beverage and distraction.
You'll then need to dispose of the dye and launder your fabric. I gently maneuvered the pot to the sink, held the fabric back with the skewers, and poured most of the dye off. I added a little cold water, swished, and poured the rest of the dye off. I then scuttled the pot to the washing machine and lifted the fabric into the machine with the skewers. Easy-peasy. Ish.
The only problem? It worked too well. I confess--I had not expected the dye to turn out so vibrantly! Lesson learned! Unfortunately, it's a bit bright for my 18th century wardrobe, so I've parlayed the loss into a gain for my vintage wardrobe: It's becoming a little summer sundress.